Facebook Gives Lawmakers Follow-Up Answers, however Not Much Is New

SAN FRANCISCO — During two days of grilling from Congress in April, Facebook’s chief govt, Mark Zuckerberg, repeatedly promised to “get back to” lawmakers on questions he couldn’t reply. On Monday, Congress launched the social community’s follow-up responses to these queries.

In 454 pages that have been made public by the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees, Facebook offered info to greater than 2,000 questions from lawmakers on subjects together with its insurance policies on person information, privateness and safety. Yet a lot of the data that Facebook included was not new and the social community sidestepped offering detailed solutions, in a transfer that will embolden a few of its critics.

In dozens of responses about how Facebook operates and the way it offers with its on-line content material, the corporate referred members of Congress again to its phrases of service and group requirements. In 224 situations, Facebook merely requested lawmakers to look again at beforehand answered questions.

“See response to Question 2,” Facebook wrote in seven solutions to questions from Senator Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas, who requested whether or not the corporate blocked folks from seeing content material that got here from conservative voices.

Mr. Zuckerberg appeared in Washington two months in the past after a swell of concern over whether or not the corporate had mishandled its customers’ information. The go to was spurred by revelations from The New York Times and others over how Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting agency with ties to the Trump marketing campaign, had improperly harvested the data of tens of millions of Facebook customers.

During Mr. Zuckerberg’s two days on Capitol Hill, he sat via hours of questioning over every little thing from the corporate’s enterprise mannequin to its information safety and the way overseas brokers had misused the platform in the course of the 2016 presidential election. He mentioned he would get again to 24 lawmakers with follow-up solutions, in line with a tally by The New York Times. After the hearings wrapped up, lawmakers submitted a proper listing of written questions that they wished extra info on.

In a press release that Facebook included with its solutions, the corporate thanked members of Congress for the questions and mentioned it “did our best to review and answer them in the available timeframe.”

A Facebook spokesman mentioned the corporate was additionally getting ready to ship its responses to questions posed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

In lots of the firm’s solutions, it sought to guarantee lawmakers that it was actively in search of different firms which may have harvested folks’s private information. In response to a query by Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, for instance, the corporate mentioned it was within the means of investigating each app that had gathered a considerable amount of Facebook information and that 200 apps had already been suspended pending additional investigation.

Many senators additionally requested Facebook about its work to safe its platform for the November midterm elections. The firm gave almost similar solutions to these questions, outlining the way it was deploying new instruments to root out faux accounts and disinformation campaigns.

Some senators requested the corporate a big quantity of questions. Mr. Cruz, for example, posed 119 queries, lots of which had subsections. His strains of inquiry ranged from whether or not Facebook staff had donated cash to Republican and Democratic candidates through the years to how Facebook outlined its hate speech insurance policies.

Members of Congress mentioned they have been reviewing Facebook’s solutions.

Follow Sheera Frenkel on Twitter: @sheeraf

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